find the latest legal job
Senior Associate - Competition, Policy & Regulatory
Category: Other | Location: Sydney CBD, Inner West & Eastern Suburbs Sydney NSW
· Work with a well regarded Partner · Sydney CBD
View details
Commercial Litigation Senior Associate
Category: Litigation and Dispute Resolution | Location: Sydney CBD, Inner West & Eastern Suburbs Sydney NSW
· Lawyers Weekly Australia Partner of the Year 2016, Insolvency
View details
MULTIPLEX Regional Legal Counsel (Vic) | 7 to 10 years + PQE
Category: Generalists - In House | Location: Melbourne CBD & Inner Suburbs Melbourne VIC
· Career defining in-house role · Tier One international contractor
View details
Junior Lawyer - Personal Injury Law
Category: Personal Injury Law | Location: Parramatta & Western Suburbs Sydney NSW
· Highly specialized practice · Challenging role with great opportunities
View details
IR Advisor/Member Advocate
Category: Industrial Relations and Employment Law | Location: St Leonards NSW 2065
· Permanent (0.8-1.0 FTE) role in a developing team
View details
Attack on money laundering threatens justice

Attack on money laundering threatens justice

LAW FIRMS may soon face a range of new compliance requirements while lawyers and their clients see an erosion of confidentiality under the Federal Government’s draft anti-money laundering…

LAW FIRMS may soon face a range of new compliance requirements while lawyers and their clients see an erosion of confidentiality under the Federal Government’s draft anti-money laundering legislation, according to the legal profession’s peak body.

A recently released report by the Minister for Justice and Customs Chris Ellison outlined the proposed reforms, which are in line with new international standards.

Anti-Money Laundering Law Reform Issues Paper 5 suggests lawyers, accountants and company and trust service providers would have to develop new internal mechanisms to detect money laundering and report on suspicious activity by their clients.

Possible areas of reform for legal practitioners, according to the report, include new compliance arrangements for lawyers and firms who advise clients in relation to a range of activities that involve financial transactions. There would also be new reporting requirements across a range of client and transactional activity, not just cash transactions.

The president of the Law Council of Australia Bob Gotterson QC said the report raised some significant issues which may have wide ranging ramifications for lawyers and law firms.

“When similar anti-money laundering powers were introduced in international jurisdictions, it prompted intense debate about how they might affect the well established principles of legal professional privilege and client confidentiality,” Gotterson said.

The issues paper acknowledged the compatibility of monitoring client activity for suspicious activity and then reporting it to a government agency with obligations of client confidentiality “is likely to be of concern to legal practitioners in terms of client legal privilege”.

But “legal practitioners are not required to report suspicious activity if the relevant information is subject to client legal privilege”, the issues paper states.

The Law Council raised concerns over the grey area of where privilege starts and ends. “Regard must be had for the areas of uncertainty which inevitably arise in everyday practice. Indeed, one might envisage a situation where a client’s motives and actions are unclear, but not necessarily suspicious,” Gotterson said.

A spokesperson from the Attorney General’s Department told Lawyers Weekly that most lawyers were already fully conversant with the issue of where a privilege starts and where it ends, “as it arises in the course of every day legal practice”.

“Therefore, the proposed reporting requirement should not impose an additional burden,” the spokesperson said.

For law firms, the costs of compliance could prove to be considerable, according to the Law Council, and the profession would need to contemplate and provide comment on this.

“These are but a few of the issues which the Minister for Justice and Customs will need to consider carefully in the progression of this matter,” Gotterson said.

The Law Council has asked its constituent state and territory bodies to nominate suitable lawyers with a view to establishing a small working committee to oversee its formal submission in response to the government’s paper. The Council will make further comment once this submission has been completed.

Like this story? Read more:

QLS condemns actions of disgraced lawyer as ‘stain on the profession’

NSW proposes big justice reforms to target risk of reoffending

The legal budget breakdown 2017

Attack on money laundering threatens justice
lawyersweekly logo
Promoted content
Recommended by Spike Native Network
more from lawyers weekly
Two businessman, growth
Sep 19 2017
Aus catching up on international arbitration front
Australia is starting to see a spike in international arbitration with this set to continue over the...
Prison
Sep 19 2017
Manson family killer suffered ‘miscarriage of justice’: former lawyer
A retired Australian barrister has published a book on the Manson Family murders of 1969 and called ...
Belinda Lonsdale, WA
Sep 18 2017
New judicial appointments welcomed in WA
The Law Society of Western Australia has congratulated Belinda Lonsdale on her appointment to the di...
APPOINTMENTS
Allens managing partner Richard Spurio, image courtesy Allens' website
Jun 21 2017
Promo season at Allens
A group of lawyers at Allens have received promotions across its PNG and Australian offices. ...
May 11 2017
Partner exits for in-house role
A Victorian lawyer has left the partnership of a national firm to start a new gig with state governm...
Esteban Gomez
May 11 2017
National firm recruits ‘major asset’
A national law firm has announced it has appointed a new corporate partner who brings over 15 years'...
opinion
Nicole Rich
May 16 2017
Access to justice for young transgender Australians
Reform is looming for the process that young transgender Australians and their families must current...
Geoff Roberson
May 11 2017
The lighter side of the law: when law and comedy collide
On the face of it, there doesn’t seem to be much that is amusing about the law, writes Geoff Rober...
Help
May 10 2017
Advocate’s immunity – without fear or without favour but not both
On 29 March 2017, the High Court handed down its decision in David Kendirjian v Eugene Lepore & ...